The National University (UNA), one of Costa Rica’s principal public universities, planted 9,000 trees last week and announced it is now the nation’s first carbon-neutral university.
Faculty, staff, students and children at campus locations across the country planted the trees, which will counteract the estimated 4,478 tons of greenhouse gases emitted yearly by university activities, according to a statement released by the university.
“We got our statistics according to the use of the vehicular fleet, the use of (liquefied petroleum gas) in the cafeterias, the treatment plants, the solid waste deposited in landfills, air travel and the consumption of fertilizers,” said Juan Valdez of UNA’s Atmosphere Chemical Laboratory.
“The methodology used for quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions is the one recommended by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),”Valdez added.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse gas” blamed for being a prime contributor to global warming.
UNA has further carried out reforestation campaigns for two years to commemorate Costa Rica’s National Tree Day, and this year’s campaign was aimed at making the university carbon neutral. On each campus, 1,500 native-species trees were planted. The university’s Institute of Forest Research and Services is in charge of caring for the trees as they grow.
According to Daniel García, of the university’s Sustainable Campus Program, UNA also began last year to improve the control and management of its solid waste, as well as a campaign to reduce energy consumption and increase environmental awareness on campus.
The international certification agency Control Union World Group certified UNA as carbon neutral on June 13, according to the UNA statement.
“For the NationalUniversity, it gives us great pride to be able to declare that we are a carbon neutral institution, as this reaffirms our commitment to the environment,” said UNA dean Olman Segura.